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Deciding Between Two Jobs

You have a high class problem! You've been offered two excellent positions, both of which have their pros and cons. You've gone over and over the issues, and you can't decide which one to take. You must make your decision within the next three days. What do you do?

First of all, trust your gut. It won't lie to you. If you have an inexplicable positive or negative feeling about either position, don't ignore it. People often rationalize themselves into taking jobs, only to find out weeks later their instincts were correct.

If your intuition keeps changing gears, get more information. Formulate questions that address your confusion and ask for one more interview. Another opportunity to talk with your potential manager onsite about key issues may clarify your position. You can also use the simple comparative process below or a combination of an interview and this spreadsheet. Whatever you do, you need to move beyond your current internal dialogue.

To get the issues out of your head and into a reliable decision-making process, try the following:

  • Make eight columns on a sheet of paper as shown below:

Position A


Position A


Position B


Position B

 Compensation 8  Long Hours 9  Compensation 9  Manager 7
 Lots of Creativity 10  Tight Deadlines 7  Room to Grow 10  Large Company 7
 Team Work 8      Extensive Training 7  Changing Structure 6
 Major Contribution 10      3 Week Vacation 5    
 Contact w/ Clients 9      Contact w/ Clients 9    
TOTAL: 45   16   40   20
  • In the first column list position A's five most obvious advantages. Then, on a scale of 1-10, rate the importance of each. Finally, total all your ratings to get an overall plus score.

    In our example job A offers excellent compensation (8), lots of creativity (10), a teamwork environment (8), the opportunity to make a major contribution (10) and constant client contact (9) for a total positive score of 45.

  • In column two list up to five negatives inherent in position A, and rate each of them on a scale of 1-10. Total this column as well.

    Job A's negative factors include long hours (9) and tight deadlines (7), which total 16.

  • In column three list the five greatest positives for position B. Then rate and total them.

    Job B's positives include compensation (9), room to grow (10), extensive training (7), three weeks vacation (5) and lots of client contact (9) for a total of 40 points.

  • In column four list position B's negatives. Rate and total them.

    Job B's negatives include a hard-to-figure manager (7); a large, potentially bureaucratic company (7) and a continually changing organizational structure (6), which total 20 points.

  • Once you've completed the four columns, you're ready to compare them. Start with the positive factors in columns one and three. Does job A or B have more important individual pluses? Which one has the better combination of positives? Is either job clearly more positive overall?

    Job A has two 10s, while job B has only one. And job A's positive total is greater than job B's. Looking only at the pluses, job A is the better offer.

  • Now compare the individual negative factors and their totals in columns two and four. Which offer has either fewer or less important negatives? Does one offer look substantially more negative than the other?

    Once again, job A is the winner with fewer negative issues than job B and a lower negative total.

  • If one of the jobs has more pluses and fewer minuses, it makes sense to accept it.

    Using this exercise as your decision-making tool, job A outshines job B in both positive and negative comparisons. You have solid, tangible reasons for accepting job A. Go for it!

  • If there isn't a clear winner, keep going. For each position subtract the minus total from the plus total. The one with the larger remainder is your likely choice.

    It comes as no surprise that job A with an overall score of 29 once again comes in ahead of job B with a score of 20. You can pick up that phone and say yes to Job A with both conviction and relief.

If you just can't bring yourself to rely on numbers alone, use a whole-brained decision-making process that combines this left-brained exercise with your right-brained intuition.

If you're still stumped, it's safe to assume the jobs are equally attractive, and it doesn't really matter which one you accept. They both have a lot of promise. Pull out your lucky quarter and flip it. Whatever you do should work out just fine.


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